What a year for AC Milan! The return of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, the debut of Daniel Maldini, the emergence of Stefano Pioli and Milan at the top of the table. Here's out list of the best things to happen to the club in this difficult year!
TOP 3 PLAYERS
Ibrahimovic’s arrival at Milan changed the fortunes of the club as he brought a winning mentality that was sorely lacking. The striker took time to adjust to his new role and plays more like a secondary striker dipping into creative positions however the moments where he looks like a classic no. 9 is when he truly shines. The striker scored a stunning 22 goals in the year and he is 39 years old. He has carried the team scoring critical goals to win games that we hadn’t in years.
Kjaer is the most underrated signing in Milan’s past decade. The defender was brought in as a stop gap for an absurdly low price and has easily been the best defender since his arrival. He is aggressive yet composed, he is quick when needed and can pass the ball expertly. Most importantly, he is a leader and provides calm to the backline. He also brought out the best in Alessio Romagnoli allowing the captain to settle more into his role.
Kessie grew into his role this year and exceeded all expectations. He has been a dominant force in the midfield, single handedly overpowering the opposition and cleaning up all the messes. He has also learnt how to work within his limits yet deliver significant results. His passing and finishing have improved but more importantly he plays with a mature mind and his decision making is vastly superior to that of when he arrived at the club.
TOP 3 GOALS
Franck Kessie vs Parma
Rafael Leao vs Sassuolo
Jens Petter Hauge vs Celtic FC
TOP 3 MATCHES
4-2 vs Juventus
Milan beat Juventus 4-2 at the San Siro in a stunning comeback win. The Rossoneri were 2-0 down just after half time but fought back in the remaining half an hour of the second half thanks to Ibrahimovic, Kessie, Leao and Rebic to pick an incredibly valuable three points on the way to the UEL qualification. Milan went toe to toe with a Juventus side who simply won by default over the years and the game demonstrated that Milan were to be watched. The warrior mentality showed then and this is why Milan have done so well in 2020.
4-2 vs Celtic FC
Milan were stunned in the Europa League by Celtic in a game where Milan went down 2-0 in the first 15 minutes and lost Kjaer to an injury. Milan had to rush Romagnoli back from injury and had rotated heavily with Hauge, Krunic, Castillejo, Gabbia and Dalot. Milan were dragged back into the game with a Calhanoglu free kick followed quickly by a Castillejo tap in. The game was locked until Hauge emerged with some magic scoring a stunner after beating five defenders. He would also provide an assist for Diaz late in the game to cap off a truly remarkable comeback.
3-2 vs Lazio
The final game of 2020 for Milan was easily the most memorable of the year. Milan needed a win to end the year in the top spot, they were facing a resilient Lazio side and were missing most leaders such as Kessie, Bennacer, Kjaer and Ibrahimovic. Rebic scored his first of the season, Calhanoglu scored from the spot, Donnarumma saved a penalty but was beaten on the rebound; that was the first half. In the second, Immobile beat Kalulu to score a smooth goal to tie the game. At the literal last minute of the game, Hernandez jumped above Luis Alberto and scored a thunderous header to take all three points and end 2020 in 1st place.
Penalties against Rio Ave
In the UEL qualifiers, Milan were to a 2-2 after extra time by Rio Ave as they looked to qualify for the group stages. This led to the most sensational penalty shoot out in my memory that pretty much almost gave me a heart attack. Each side took 12 penalties with Milan winning 9-8 after Donnarumma made the winning save. Milan missed three penalties as Colombo, Donnarumma and Bennacer missed but Milan still managed to persevere and pick up a key victory whilst maintaining their nerves.
Victory In Naples
Milan travelled to Naples and came away with all three points in the league for the first time in over 10 years with a 3-1 win. Milan also faced off against their former manager Gennaro Gattuso and emerged victorious led by an Ibrahimovic brace and a cheeky chip from Hauge. Milan and Napoli are going head to head for the Champions League spots and that win was a big step forward for the club.
First Game After COVID-19 Lockdown
12th June 2020. Milan faced Juventus in their second leg of the Coppa Italia semi finals. This was the first game following the lockdown due to the coronavirus outbreak in Italy and across the world. Milan played at the Allianz Stadium with no fans present and an eerie atmosphere. As a football fan, the game brought some solace and three months of uncertainty, shock and despair as thousands lost their lives across the globe. The game ended 0-0 and Milan were knocked out but the game marked an important first step out of the depths of the crisis as sport acted to ease the stress faced by billions around the world. We pass our sincere condolences to all those who have lost loved ones in 2020.
TOP 3 COMMERCIAL WINS
Banco BPM - Milan managed to sign a shirt sponsorship deal for the first time in the history of the club marking a significant step forward for the Women's team. The sponsorship marks a dedication to the development to that sector of the club and shows Milan has been growing the revenue with a solid portfolio of sponsors in 2020.
Emirates Airlines - This was another huge win for the club as they managed to keep one of the premier shirt sponsors in football by renewing their deal with Emirates Airlines who also sponsor Real Madrid, Arsenal and Olympique Lyonnais. The renewal was for a smaller fee but did include a provision to allow Milan to court and show off multiple sponsors on their shirt ultimately benefitting the club.
Roc Nation - Milan also partnered with Jay Z's Roc Nation to grow the Rossoneri brand in North America and bring the red and black colours into pop culture. Since the deal, numerous celebrities especially in the US have been seen sporting Milan shirts especially DJ Khaled and his kid. Milan and Roc Nationa have hosted virtual music events together and a fashion collection has also been launched with an affiliated brand Paper Planes to expand merchandising. The partnership is doing wonders for the club and is a huge win.
Thanks for making it this far, if you'd like to see a summary of Milan's results in 2020 follow this link.
Otherwise, Have a Happy New Year and Can't Wait To Catch You All In 2021!